Growing up, I loved to read the advice columns from Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) and Ann Landers and also the etiquette columns by the descendants of Emily Post (RIP, 1960) and Miss Manners written by Judith Martin. I’ve continued to follow questions presented to the two advice columns in the modern age, but to a lesser degree than before. The columns still running have mostly been taken over by the children of the former authors or by teams of surrogates. It’s probably just as well, because though the ideal of being well mannered is still something to strive for, the speed of change in the world we’re living in has made those old columns by the “originals” seem quaint and dated.
Both “Abby” and “Ann” in their columns at various times tackled lesbian and gay issues like coming out, abuse, and therapy. Of course, of necessity to appeal to a wide audience, LGBT topics were not the primary focus of their work. Miss Manners and the descendants of Emily Post typically focus on a broad overview of manners and etiquette issues that apply to most anyone. No one has written a definitive guide to address queer specific etiquette and manners until now. In June, the book, Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Life was released. It’s quickly climbing both the LGBT bestseller lists AND the etiquette best seller lists.
Steven Petrow is a well known journalist who frequently writes about gay and lesbian matters and also about manners and etiquette as they apply not only to the LGBT community but to everyone. It seems only natural that he has combined his two writing passions into the definitive guidebook for gay and lesbian manners!
Petrow’s book is so up to date that it even addresses dating for soldiers now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) is almost a thing of history. The straight family members, friends and colleagues of lesbians, gays and transsexuals will gain a lot of understanding about LGBT issues and “Do’s” and “Don’ts” by reading this book too. Between the covers you’ll find great advice on topics like:
- Coming Out (yourself, when a child comes out to parents, parents coming out to children, etc)
- Love and Sex
- Relationships and Gay Marriage
- Families and Parenting
- Grieving and so much more.
Do you know when it’s okay to use the words “Dyke” or “Faggot”? Is it ever okay? Read this book and find out. Should you “out” someone? Find out here. How do you talk to a new partner about STD’s, HIV and AIDS? This book has the answer.
The book has sections called “Queeries” which come from actual reader questions presented to Steven Petrow and his published answers. There are several sections designated as “Straight Talk” which are directed at the heterosexual reader. There is a complete glossary of terms, a full index and an entire section devoted to resources that lists many dozens of groups, organizations and websites.
Overall, this is an excellent resource for those among us who want to be a bit more polished as we present ourselves to the world.